How to Rise Above Today’s Economic Challenges: Equip Your Sales Force with Mobile CRM

In today’s tough economic climate, companies need their sales teams operating at peak performance. But traditional customer relationship management (CRM) may be hampering field salespeople’s productivity, with frequent downtime and lengthy sales cycles cutting them off from their managers. Learn how mobile CRM solutions can help speed up and improve the sales process, so your company can survive even the toughest market.
There’s never been a time when you haven’t needed your field salespeople to perform at peak ability. But a number of challenges in today’s global marketplace makes it harder than ever for field sales representatives to stay on top of the game—and keep your company’s bottom line from sinking into the red. 

For one thing, there’s the constantly changing landscape of customer demands that sales teams have to navigate. Customers’ expectations are higher than ever before—and continue to change, as statistics show. Business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce increases yearly and makes up the bulk of web-based sales: the US Census Bureau E-Stats report published in May 2008 states that B2B e-commerce in manufacturing and wholesale industries amounted to $2,716 billion (USD), or 93 percent of total online sales for 2006. Field salespeople have to remain competitive and ensure that the Web helps them boost sales by appealing to customers old and new who are quickly becoming accustomed to the convenience of accessing products and services from around the world, any time of the day or night.

The economic downturn is another cause for concern. If it walks like a recession, and talks like a recession, then it’s probably a recession, bringing with it potential limitations on the opportunities for companies to make sales. The “R word” can often scare businesses into cutting costs and reducing budgets, perhaps by finding overseas suppliers with cheaper products—more reason salespeople may have to compete on the Web to attract and retain customers. And if your own company’s budgets have been reduced, you may find yourself dealing with cutbacks in spending on advertising, which only puts extra strain on your sales reps to come through.

These and other challenges can greatly impact the performance of field sales teams—and ultimately that of your company. In an economic downturn, the risk of seeing your profits shrink is high enough. But if your sales force is unproductive or immobilized, that risk is even greater.

What you may not know is that traditional, “same-old” sales force automation (SFA) and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions probably aren’t providing you with the help you need to maximize the productivity of your sales teams and make gains in your customer base—and your profit margins.

In fact, sales managers have tremendous difficulty getting the majority of their sales reps to use their CRM or SFA systems. According to AMR Research, “33 to 47 percent of customer management applications [are] facing serious adoption issues”—a statistic that doesn’t even account for the reps who do use the system, but use it inefficiently.

All together, this adds up to the fact that large numbers of field sales reps are not achieving the needed levels of productivity that help companies succeed when the economy doesn’t seem to be on their side. And what’s more, the sales reps themselves report they don’t use or like using these traditional CRM applications because they aren’t user friendly, don’t correspond to field reps needs in a variety of situations, and involve a steep learning curve.

What you also may not know is that your field sales reps needn’t be limited to using only a traditional CRM solution. CRM applications designed for mobile devices allow your sales reps to have 24/7 access to customer data and other information with cell phones or smartphones. Mobile CRM can improve sales reps’ productivity and has proven success in driving sales and increasing profitability.

To make the case for mobile CRM, here are the ways it can provide the flexibility and accessibility your sales reps need to keep your business competitive, along with some of the key reasons why traditional CRM applications may no longer provide sales reps with the tools and data they need to keep your company on a competitive track.

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